Forecast: ‘generally sunny with a distinct lack of a personnel’ now that everyone is taking their holidays. The theme of this month is most definitely productize – a word that filled me with architectural suspicion previously – but now I can say with some certainty that the road from application to product can be broken down easily into key elements (as long as you don’t count all the non-technical marketing, cultural awareness, training etc. etc.).
Let’s have a look at that key step, application to product. The implication there is that our cloud application is already working for one or more clients, probably clients who partnered in it’s initial construction, but now we want to put it out there en masse to the world. So all the work we are focussing on here will be meta-code that isn’t within the application – that’s perfect (of course)!
Packaging. Many developers will have begun to grey around the temples are the mention of packaging, however in cloud terms, it can be reduced to the minimum of fuss and effort. For instance SalesForce allows you to tip toe merrily through your application picking components to package and then does the rest of the hard work for you, a far cry from the old days of trying to deploy change scripts to databases and binary patches to applications.
So, not so bad, what’s the flip side?
Security. In all senses a cloud platform raises the bar on security and performance expectation from its market product providers. SalesForce have recently dramatically raised the cost of conducting joint security reviews with product suppliers, but then I suppose the justification for this is that it can be a deeply involved process. Obviously you don’t want it to be a deeply involved process when you are rushing your product to an imploring market so I cannot recommend enough that you familiarize yourself with the common security and performance gotchas (such as unwinding triggers) and the preferred solutions.
After packaging, you need to plan for more packaging: seriously. You’ll want to deploy changes to your product as your community take advantage of the fact that a SaaS product is a living, continually improving thing. Carefully arranging how the packages exist in core and satellite groups can make your life a hundred times easier down the line. Again, SalesForce is here to help but it can’t actually do the architectural thinking for you.
There’s more to it – of course – but to think of application and product as two very separate things is an important shift, it also signals some important milestones for Arcus so I’m hoping for some free champagne soon…